Critical Role has grown and expanded beyond a live streamed Dungeons & Dragons game to become a full Production company with novel, comics, multiple shows under the Critical Role banner, an animated series, a game publishing company, and now a record label. Their new album, Welcome To Tal’Dorei, gives fans an immersive experience with epic fantasy music from Critical Role.
The Illuminerdi had the opportunity to speak with composer Matthew Carl Earl about working with Critical Role on the new Welcome To Tal’Dorei album. During our interview Matthew Carl Earl talked about collaborating with Matt Mercer and the Critical Role team, how Matt uses the music during the live streams, and how the composers worked to balance making the music epic without overpowering the game play. The composer also revealed a fun easter egg that Critters should keep an ear out for while listening to Welcome To Tal’Dorei.
COMPOSER MATTHEW CARL EARL REVEALS HILARIOUS MATT MERCER EASTER EGG THAT CRITICAL ROLE FANS NEED TO KEEP AN EAR OUT FOR ON THE WELCOME TO TAL’DOREI ALBUM
“So Matt the DM was giving some creative feedback. A bunch of the people on the team were giving feedback. Matt actually on one of the tracks, he did a laugh. I can’t remember who, someone on our team wrote that track or whatever, but they wanted like a spooky atmosphere and everything.
And he was just like, “Oh yeah, I want to dub some stuff.” And we’re like, “Okay.” And he recorded his own voice, sent it back to us and we mixed it in. So I actually saw on some of the thing on YouTube or something, one of the comments. Someone was like, “Is that your laugh in there?” It was like, so people got good ears.”
Matthew Carl Earl talked about the freedom that he and the others composers were given to create the epic fantasy music, leaning into the emotions more than the story, given that the story has yet to be told. He also talked about working with the team and specifically noted a hilarious Easter egg that some Critters already noticed. The Critical Role founders and cast members are no strangers to being a part of the music of the franchise. They sung in the Campaign 3 opening theme, “It’s Thursday Night”, while Sam Riegel has been integral in creating the music of Critical Role and The Legend Of Vox Machina.
We talked to Matthew Carl Earl about the research he and the other composers did to more fully understand the world of Exandria and how the music is used throughout the actual live stream.
“They sent us a batch of some of the past music they were using. We watched their show a bunch and especially to see how they’re using it. Because one of the things Matt the DM does that’s really cool is he’ll make edits of a bunch of the tracks and then he has a sound board. I’m sure you totally into this, but he plays back the sounds and it plays back sections of the music based on what he’s telling in the story, just so it can sync up perfectly.
And that’s really cool. So they’re encouraging us just to have like sections of the music that they could edit to. So that was really helpful, definitely watching and seeing how they’re going to use the music on how to write it.”
While the composers were given quite a bit of freedom in their creation they did listen to some of the music that has been used on Critical Role in the past. Interestingly watching Critical Role seems to have been one of the most important parts of the research process. This not only gave them insight into the type of storytelling they would be crafting music for, but how the music is used. Matthew Carl Earl also gave a bit more behind-the-scenes insight into how Matt Mercer uses the music to immerse his players and audience more fully into the scene.
Understanding how the music is used is a key part of the process to know what to incorporate into the score. When creating the music for Welcome To Tal’Dorei, the composers needed to be mindful of the balance between truly immersive epic fantasy pieces that would not overpower the performances. Matthew Carl Earl talked about how they found that balance.
“That’s actually a point we consciously made too, when we were watching the show too. You’re seeing that they’re constantly talking over the track. It’s like most of the tracks too, aren’t super bombastic. They’re actually kind of flat as far as dynamics go. We have some ebb and flow, but we wanted these long textures that just create mood more so than we do to really jump out and hear things. But then there’s some sections that they can play back if they want to hit a certain moment and everything. But that was very conscious to try to create background music was the idea.”
The Welcome To Tal’Dorei album is full of gorgeous music that brings the fantasy world of Critical Role to life. The care that the composers put into it from incorporating Matt Mercer’s laugh, to knowing the technical side of how the music is used, and understanding that this music needs to help the performances not overpower them shines through. And with Critical Role announcing their record label, Scanlan Shorthalt Music, there will hopefully be even more music for Critters to fall in love with.
Critical Role Campaign 3 returns tonight, June 30, 2022 at 7pm Pacific on their Twitch and YouTube channels. You can now listen to and purchase Welcome To Tal’Dorei via Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and any other online music services. What do you think of The Welcome To Tal’Dorei album? Did you hear Matt Mercer’s laugh? Which track is your favorite? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more Critical Role.